Summary: It is well established that pollinators are essential to food production, with a third of every mouthful of food attributed to pollinated crops. Protecting pollinators, especially bees, has been an ongoing focus of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services through the Bee Check Program, new beekeeping and hive health videos and research on the best pollinator crops in North Carolina at the state’s research stations. With June being National Pollinator Month and June 19-25 being National Pollinator Week, it is a good time to talk about resources available to beekeepers and others interested in protecting pollinators.
Today’s Topic with Southern Farm Network’s Mike Davis
- June 19-25 is National Pollinator Week and June is recognized as National Pollinator Month, so I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share some of the good things the department does to help protect pollinators, or more specifically, bees.
- Pollinators are essential to food production and without bees, butterflies, birds and other pollinators we would likely have a lot less food.
- It is estimated that a third of every mouthful of food is attributed to pollinated crops.
- In fact, we have a pretty significant commercial beekeeping industry in North Carolina that manages hives that travel the country pollinating crops along the way.
- We have around 20,000 bee colonies that are part of commercial beekeeping operations that move by tractor trailer load in February to pollinate almond groves in California.
- Each tractor trailer can transport 400 to 450 colonies, so you can see that is a lot of traveling bees.
- They return south and either move on to pollinate blueberries in the south or northern crops. It’s quite an interesting and necessary business.
- We also have a good number of hobby beekeepers.
- In fact, we have been seeing renewed interest in beekeeping in recent years after bee numbers began to decline a few years ago.
- To increase awareness of the location of apiaries and bee hives, the department offered a Bee Check program where hive owners could voluntarily register their hives.
- Pesticide applicators can then check the locations to help avoid issues surrounding drift from pesticide applications.
- Through the Bee Check program, we have 1,773 registered apiaries and 11,561 registered hives.
- In addition to increasing awareness between hive owners and pesticide applicators, Bee Check has also been helpful for beekeepers to connect with others in their area.
- It’s been a good program.
- I recently had the opportunity to recognize a team of employees from our Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division and our Plant Industry Division for their work on educational videos related to beehives and beekeeping.
- One video covers the proper use of pesticides to manage beehive pests, and the other video aims to help pesticide inspectors investigate bee kills.
- “Managing Hive Pests Through Pesticide Use” and “Bee Kill Investigation” are both accessible on the department’s pollinator webpage.
- The “Investigation” video is good for people who want to understand what goes on in a bee colony.
- Bees and pollinators really do a lot to help us humans, so we need to be mindful of them and let them work.
- Our Plant Industry Division also houses the Apiary Program that offers inspections for disease and other hive disorders and provides fumigation services to help control disease.
- We are fortunate to have a lot of resources dedicated to healthy bee populations and beekeeping education and outreach.